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Tennis: Nishikori advances to 2nd round at Western & Southern Open

Japan's Kei Nishikori acknowledges the crowd after beating Russia's Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Aug. 13, 2018. (Kyodo)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (Kyodo) -- Japan's Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round of the Western & Southern Open men's singles after beating Russia's Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Monday.

Nishikori, ranked 23rd in the world, claimed a 7-5, 6-3 win over the No. 37 Russian at Lindner Family Tennis Center. The 28-year-old Japanese allowed Rublev to tie several times and break him twice, but converted four of his own six chances.

Rublev fought back from a three-point deficit and leveled at 5-5 in the first set, but Nishikori took the next game and broke Rublev's serve in the decider.

In the second set, the pair traded games until Nishikori broke the Russian again during a three-game run that sealed the win.

"It was a tough match since there were ups and downs in both sets, but I was able to break in the clutch moments," Nishikori said. "This is the last tournament until the U.S. Open, so I'd like to end it in good shape."

The men's tournament is one of nine ATP World Masters 1000 events of the season and serves as the final warm-up for the upcoming U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam of the year.

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